‘Lio is playing kick-about with Jesus’

The week in sport through quotes, by IAN COLE, this week includes great sporting stories from the Grand National, the US Masters golf, Portsmouth’s heroic FA Cup semi-final victory, and the footballing sensation that is Lionel Messi. Plus mentions for Santa Claus and Colleen Rooney’s dress sense

“I hope that one day I will wake up and think that this is not for me. That I am not as good as I was and can tell myself not to make a fool of myself by carrying on too long. But I’ve got a funny feeling someone is going to have to drag me down and tell me” Tony McCoy, right, after winning the Grand National at the 15th attempt, disappoints his rivals by ruling out retirement.

“The good news is that the event, in a few weeks’ time, will be a great success. So will next year’s, by which time Dispatches will probably have moved on to exposing Santa Claus as a paedophile” Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, defends the London Marathon after a Channel 4 investigation.

“Beware the man with a brown face and white forehead” Peter Alliss‘s deftly observed commentary as Phil Mickelson removed his cap to acknowledge the cheers for his third Masters victory.

“Phil told me he went so close on a lot of occasions before winning a major and I’ve got to keep believing. It’s only six years ago that I was 250th in the world” Lee Westwood on the advice he received from Mickleson, after finishing second at the US Masters.

“The great beauty of Augusta is that there’s a sporting tragedy lying in wait on every hole” Tom Watson takes a peep among the azaleas and rhododendrons of Augusta National.

“It is not simply the degree of his conduct that was so egregious, but the fact that he disappointed all of us, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children” Billy Payne, chairman of the US Master, welcomes Tiger Woods to the tournament.

“Typical Germans. He’s young and inexperienced but they got him sent off. Everyone sprinted over to the referee. It was only a slight tug at Ribery. Jesus! He was 35 yards from goal. The ref wasn’t going to do anything but they forced him to get a card out” Sir Alex Ferguson fumes as a red card for Brazilian full back Rafael leads to Champions League defeat for his Manchester United side against Bayern Munich.

“We lost in the 1999 Final but we lost like gentlemen. It would be nice if Manchester United could do the same” Uli Hoeness, the Bayern president.

“He was so small we were afraid to touch him in case we hurt him. Then we noticed his touch on the ball. Some of the coaches told us not to tackle him too hard, but we couldn’t get near enough to do that” Gerard Pique recalls first impressions of Lionel Messi, who scored all four goals as Barcelona destroyed Arsenal in the Champions League.

“They don’t need to hold an election to find the right man for No 10 here” Henry Winter, of the Telegraph, on Messi. The Barcelona-Arsenal tie was played on the day that Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the date of the General Election.

“He’s at a select level, being the best in the world and a star at Barcelona. Lio is playing kick-about with Jesus” Maradona, the Argentina manager, on his star player.

“What he is, he’s like something out of Greek mythology, man. A little short-legged bull, covered with eyes” Ray Hudson goes over the top about Messi in his TV commentary during Saturday’s Clasico.

“It’s a privilege to see so many people happy. They never did anything wrong. All they did was turn up to support their team and yet they don’t know if they will have a team to support” Avram Grant, manager of Portsmouth, in administration, relegated from the Premiership on Saturday when not playing, in debt to the tune of millions ” but in the FA Cup Final after a 2-0 semi-final victory over Spurs.

“How can you play football on a pitch you can’t stand up on? It’s rock hard and wet on top. It’s like a skating rink” Harry Redknapp, the Spurs boss, is not the only one unimpressed by the surface at Wembley.

“It is just horrendous on an England team mate. James Milner is exceptionally lucky his career is still intact. It was a straight red card and it was right in front of the referee. I know you might think I’m in a rant, but I‘m not” Martin O’Neill, the Aston Villa manager, is outraged by Chelsea skipper John Terry’s challenge on Milner in the other semi-final, which Chelsea won 3-0.

“He’s a great leader. Everyone has seen it. A lot of other clubs are looking at him and rightly so. He has done a great job” Bobby Zamora in praise of his Fulham manager, Roy Hodgson, who has guided the club to the semi-finals of the Europa League.

“I would like to ask Michael if I still haven’t got any heart” Audley Harrison taunts Michael Sprott after victory in their Commonwealth heavyweight title bout with a ninth-round knock-out, defying the pain of damaged shoulder ligaments.

“He’s a prop. All he thinks about is the next scrum and his next meal” Dorian West, Northampton’s coach, as the row with Saracens rumbles on over the transfer of Tongan prop Soane Tonga’uiha.

“As the manufactured emotions, plastic triumphs and false companionship of reality shows and Lloyd Webber-recruitment vehicles proliferate on TV, a true contest like the National, full of real people and genuine emotion, is a rare pleasure which I would not wish to trivialise by focusing on the clothes. But they started it” Martin Kelner in his weekly Guardian column about sport on TV, on the fashion faux pas bu Colleen Rooney and her liverpool chic mates during the BBC’s Grand National coverage.

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